Reflections From Accra
One can never be fully prepared for a trip of this magnitude especially knowing we now live in a world with COVID. Global travels are challenging but have been even more stressful in the last two years. Fulfilling the Devoted Skies (DS) commitment to deliver medical supplies to underserved communities has for sure been put to the test. However, I am pleased to say… Accra, Ghana, here we come!
Although an African indigene by birth, I still feel like a study abroad student on this journey. In addition to the pre-trip planning and logistics, the personal items check to make sure everything is accounted for: vaccination cards, recent test results, passports, visas; you also must make sure all volunteers are accounted for. After the multiple waiting lines (six to be specific) and many proofs of covid vaccines and a rapid test, we got through. We were officially in Accra city. Accra provided a beautiful landscape of warm, charming, and courteous people. We took the time on day 1 to walk around Nkrumah memorial park and museum for some game-day inspiration. We learned how Nkrumah was the only modern-day African leader who was president of a country (Ghana) and deputy/co-president of another (Guinea). We admired the artists and crafts at the museum.
Figure I: Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Museum
At sunrise, the alarm went off, this was the day we had been prepared for, the day COVID has postponed many times. Our host for the project, Mr. Kweku Sersah-Johnson is a retired newspaper editor and a native of the local town. Gomoa (Go.mo.a) district is in central west Accra along the Cape Coast with many towns and villages under it. Buduatta (Bu.du.a.tta), the community of service today, is a village under the Gomoa district. We had met Mr. Kweku through another acquaintance in the US, a CIO of a major hospital and a volunteer supporter of Devoted Skies. We then set off on the 2.5-hour ride where guest including members of the media, the traditional ruler of the Gomoa district, his Chiefs, the District Health officer from the Ghana Health Services (GHS), and the seating members of Parliament for the region were awaiting. As we approached the Buduatta Health Centre (BHC), we saw the crowd, all dressed in local attires and with deep charm, waiting for our arrival. We had no time to adjust, it was game time. We were greeted and escorted with smiling eyes (due to COVID masks). ?
Figure II: Welcome Sign at the Clinic with service offerings
BHC is an outpatient service clinic that averages 30 patient visits a day with most needing a referral to an acute care hospital or some form of diagnostic or laboratory test in the city, two hours away. The patient journey from discovery to diagnostic to treatment is already daunting for patient to remain engaged. Most do not have cars of their own, so a motorcycle ride to the main bus stop ~30 minutes away is the first step, then a long 2-hour bus ride through congested traffic highways. The donation event started with opening prayers and welcome speeches in the local language to respect the elders, most of whom actually do speak English and were happy to speak to me after the official presentation. I gave the speech on behalf of donors and sponsors of Devoted Skies on bringing healthcare equity across the globe as humans everywhere deserve the basic right to care. And then we presented our donation of 600lbs of much needed medical supplies of syringes, surgical masks, needles, bandages, and suture sets. Devoted Skies also procured $1,500 worth of local medication for BHC.
Figure III: Percent breakdown of donated medications
We toured the rest of the facilities including the consulting room and wellness center which is utilized as an information sharing hall for women’s health and all chronic disease management programs. The other members of the health center wore the DS t-shirt and declared they would wear the shirt every Friday and send us pictures to maintain the relationship. I was not surprised when the local chief asked if Devoted Skies would adopt BHC as a clinic to sponsor or when the media inquired how long would we continue to support BHC till it becomes a hospital with some of the diagnostic and laboratories equipment with inpatient services and features.
Figure IV: Guests at the presentation ceremony of Devoted Skies medical supplies
After the medical supplies presentation and clinic tour we drove to the village and saw the Chief’s palace. A colorful and brightly painted compound with many buildings in the center of the village. A group sat by two large coolers with flyers to hand out. The COVID vaccine station was in front of the Chief’s palace, we said hello and I engaged with a 9-year boy Benson. Benson was ultra-shy as most villagers walked towards us, he moved away. I asked about his school and what he liked to do. Benson reminded me that the most reserved people have the greatest insights. We presented a soccer ball to the teenagers in town as reminder of wellness. I told them about my athletic days and how the habits I formed from my teenage years still benefit my health and hygiene routines today. We also donated twenty pairs of sneakers on behalf of my wife, an avid runner, to the smiling adorning faces of the teenagers. We walked around town some more to see the local market and interacted with farmers and learn more about this the community, their lives and priorities. And then it was time to say goodbye. I have been re-energized on the mission of the cause. Many new friends made, countless lives touched and inspired to do more. Devoted Skies also means infinite commitment. Through healthcare, with support of our sponsors and donors, we will bridge the healthcare equity gap globally. ~
Figure V: COVID vaccination station in Buduatta, Accra Ghana
- GHANA NEWS AGENCY: https://www.gna.org.gh/1.21298202
- GHANIAN TIMES: https://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/ngo-supports-gomoa-buduatta-health-centre-with-medical-items/